Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Canberra, Australia. A giant park masquerading as a city. The only thing of note about it is that it is the country's capital, and so there's a huge amount of cultural institutions just hanging around. Oh, and you might catch a federal politician at the local supermarket. Obviously, I grew up seeing the human side of politics and wondering what it takes to make people compete and back-stab like that al in the name of power.
What was the first story you remember reading, and what impact did it have on you?
I must have been five and it was a short thing about a ghost and a cliff. That's all I can remember of it now, but that night I woke up and was convinced there was a ghost outside my bedroom that wanted to kill me. It was a great introduction to how stories can effect readers even once the story itself is finished.
What do you read for pleasure?
Thrillers (particularly political ones), anything by Terry Pratchett and my guilty little secret is regency romances.
Who are your favorite authors?
Terry Pratchett, Tamora Pierceand Jack Heath. I also have a soft sport for Clive Cussler. Whatever you (or I) might think of his writing, he was the one who first got me into thrillers.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My Samsung tablet. I do have a Kindle but its not a fire, so there's not backlight. It tend to prefer the tablet, use the kindle on holiday when I can spend ages reading while the tablet charges and my Ipod when I'm on the go.
Describe your desk
Off-white, somewhat IKEA-esque but more sturdily built. A huge CD player is crammed into the corner with a cracked Ipod stuck in the dock. Next to it is a rack of CDs, the dust starting to accumulate. There is a large monitor, the cable snaking around and ready to be plugged in when needed. A battered laptop covers a map-styled desk cover from National Geographic.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I have issues with how publishing, as an industry, operates. These operational issues are so deep seated that I don't think I could ever negotiate a book contract that solved these issues. I also wanted to experiment a bit with structure and format, and figured that it would be better to let readers decide than agents and publishers.
How do you approach cover design?
Haphazardly. I have some basic knowledge of graphic design but it is a long and painful process that usually results in more than a few discarded attempts. Given the amount of ebooks I publish, it just isn't practical for me to pay for someone to make 4/5 good quality covers a month. Maybe someday, if my readership ever gets that high...
What's the story behind your latest book?
I've always thought that military governors are spectacularly bad ideas because soldier do orders and governing does compromise and the two don't really mix. Then I thought: if I can see what a bad idea it is, surely other people would too. So why would someone accept such a stupid proposal? That was how Emma Calloway, a hard woman who had lead a hard life, came about. The rest of the world just grew out of her.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Seeing all the things that could have been but never were. Seeing people born, live and die in the space of a few tens of thousands of words. It's the lonliness of being a god and the pain of what you do to your creations.
What are you working on next?
The next novella in The Last Empire series. It's looking to be truly epic, something like 24 episodes a season for three seasons. At 30k an episode, that's 720k a season or over two million words. Whew.
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